Feminism, Friendship, and the Importance of Bonding.

Think back to a time when you discovered your first friend. I remember mine like it was yesterday. We spent everyday together playing outside, riding bikes, and coming up with puerile story lines for our dolls. Everything was easy back then and we didn’t have to worry about politics, sexism, racial sensitivity, or fighting for a cause. Simply playing and having fun was the core of our friendship. Now as an adult, I realize of course how much goes into an friendship and how similar values matter within that friendship. Even as a child, we look for friends that have similar interests. Do you like being outside? How many Barbie dolls do you have? What do you watch on Saturday mornings? Can you recite the opening song of Clarissa Explains It All ? When we become older, the questions become more complex and imperative. We weed out those that don’t align with our same values, and keep those that do. It’s important to us adults that we surround ourselves with those that are like-minded, right?

As women, there is a distinctive line that draws us apart. Feminists vs. Non Feminists. Even within those two divides, women are continually split into subgroups.  We battle with intersectional feminism and the importance of inclusion. The very people we call “sisters” seem to turn their back when we need them the most. We go back to those presiding questions about friendship and weigh them heavily:  How can I be friends with someone when we don’t have the same views? You don’t have to. You are allowed to be picky with whom you allow in your circle. Not everyone is meant to be your cheerleader and not everyone is your worst enemy either. The tired rhetoric of kumbaya or “let’s all get along” is just not realistic. Respect those with varying and different opinions, but know when to surround yourself with people with similar values. Friendship is much stronger when it’s authentic and true. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for deleting a person or “friend” that doesn’t fit your standards. I’m not going to play sisterhood with everyone, and neither should you. I’m okay with having different opinions than you, and I respect you, but I don’t have to be your BFF.

I encourage all of you to cherish those adult friendships you have now, and to keep fighting for what you believe in. I’m so proud of the women out there fighting for our rights, and those that participated in the Women’s March all across the U.S., let’s keep up the good work. womens-march

As for books, I compiled a list of reading books that are all about friendship and feminism. Keep the love circulating and let’s continue supporting one another.

  1. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color- Cherríe L. Moraga Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Toni Cade Bambara

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  2. Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism- Daisy Hernandez Bushra Rehman , Cherríe L. Moraga

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  3. The Color Purple-Alice Walker

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4. The Help-Kathryn Stockett

5.Arab & Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, & Belonging- Rabab Abdulhadi , Evelyn Alsultany , Nadine Naber

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6. Fangirl-Rainbow Rowell

8.Separate Roads to Feminism: Black, Chicana, and White Feminist Movements in America’s Second Wave-Benita Roth

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Book Review: A Torch Against the Night-Sabaa Tahir

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Running  through the desert, trying to save not only themselves but a mass of Scholars from a giant Empire purge, Laia and Elias are now fugitives clinging to the hope of life. The sequel to An Ember in the Ashes comes back and is full of more adventure and tricky plot. Sabaa Tahir  has solidified her place as a top Y.A. novelist and specialist in all things adventure. I was happy to pick up A Torch Against the Night, and divulge in the mass fandom. It’s no secret why this novel is beloved among many; it’s simply a gripping story with characters to hate and love, and unforeseen heroes.

After the fourth trials and the beginning of the reigning era of Marcus, Elias and Laia flee the city of Serra and are headed to Kauf prison to help free Laia’s brother Darin. Favor does not come to their side as they battle death, spirits, the Empire, and friends turned enemies. Familiar characters return and if you loathed Marcus and the Commandant before, the hatred will only grow deeper. There is a mass revolt by the Scholars, and bloodthirsty Marcus and the chilling Commandant waste no time killing anyone in their way. As Helene is the new Blood Shrike she is bound to Marcus’ will and must face killing hunting and killing her best friend Elias. The constant struggle between powers, families, and friends are weighted differently for each character. The internal and external battles create tension that make the characters choose: life of death?

This book was e v e r y t h i n g. It includes all of the Y.A. novel staples plus so much more. I am always impressed with Sabaa Tahir’s writing. This novel definitely explores the characters more psychologically, which I thought was well played by Tahir. However some may think the plot is slightly slower. Because this is a typical Y.A. novel, it wouldn’t be complete without a love triangle. However Tahir really makes it interesting with unexpected plot twists. Helene’s character is explored more in this novel and Tahir makes her complex yet strong and resilient. I applaud how the writer crafts the women in the novel; all of the women are these strong fighters with byzantine backgrounds. The novel is broken into three POVs: Elias, Laia, and Helene.Every character plays an integral role in shaping the story and gives the reader a different experience with their point of view. Tahir leaves you dangling on each word as the characters simultaneously cling to their life. Everything is left bare for the reader to truly discover all the evilness, desperation, and emptiness. Hats off to you Sabaa Tahir, I’ll be waiting for the next installation.

Book Review: Underground Airlines-Ben H. Winters

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Take a moment and imagine an alternate reality where slavery still exists in modern America. Perhaps, to some, it may seem as if we are already living that reality on a smaller scale. Ben H. Winters’ new novel titled Underground Airlines creates an alternate history where the Civil War never happened, Abraham was assassinated before he took oath to be president and slavery still presides in the  four southern states  appropriately called the “Hard Four.” Modern references to pop culture make the tale hauntingly eerie as the nature of the book seems quite real. The United States often looked at as a beacon of hope, is now a country with a deviating moral compass. Winters makes America a social outsider, one that relies on foreign aid.

The protagonist Victor was once a former slave who escaped to the North. However he was caught by the Federal Government and forced to work undercover as an agent or “soul catcher”, collecting other runaway slaves and returning them back to the South as a  way to maintain his freedom. His recent case brings him to Indianapolis where Victor is looking for a runaway slave by the name of Jackdaw. Through his pursuit of Jackdaw, Victor becomes closer to the truth of slavery and the oppressive system happening in America.

Unfortunately, this book fell short for me in many ways. The concept was an interesting one to say  the least, however the delivery wasn’t quite there. The characters were wooden and stiff, and Victor’s character was written very shallow. I found that the story’s main point didn’t connect, and it read as a lumpy bit of text to me. Winters come up with a great concept for a novel, however he doesn’t make that idea extraordinary as the plot and characters fall flat.